Sarah Sanders refused an impassioned plea to reject Trump's repeated declaration that the free press is 'the enemy of the American people.'
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to step away from Trump's claim that the free press is the "enemy" of the American people.
During the daily White House press briefing, Sanders was asked by CNN reporter Jim Acosta if she would echo Ivanka Trump, who told reporters earlier in the day that she does not consider the press an enemy.
Trump tweeted in June, "Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!"
It is a sentiment he has frequently expressed, despite the hundreds of thousands of hours of uninterrupted coverage the press has given to him since he started running for president.
Acosta asked Sanders, "You did not say, in the course of those remarks that you just made, that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it, from what you just said, we all get put through the wringer, we all get put in the meat grinder in this town, and you're no exception, and I'm sorry that that happened to you, I wish that that had not happened."
He continued, "But for the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you're saying Sarah, and the White House, for the United States of America, the President of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that and all I'm asking you to do Sarah is to acknowledge that right now and right here."
Instead of standing up to the challenge and putting the power of the American presidency behind the First Amendment, Sanders responded, "I appreciate your passion, I share it, I've addressed this question, I've addressed my personal feelings, I'm here to speak on behalf of the president, he has made his comments clear."
After the exchange, Acosta wrote, "I walked out of the end of that briefing because I am totally saddened by what just happened. Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn't do it. Shameful."
In a video posted online after the briefing, reporter April Ryan of American Radio Urban Networks commented on the situation: "Never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would be called an enemy of the people or a press secretary would never take that word or those words back because we asked questions?"
Ryan has repeatedly been subject to attacks from the Trump administration and spoke of having to notify the authorities about death threats as a result.
Acosta's impassioned plea comes after Trump supporters formed a mob around him as he tried to report on a Trump rally. The rabid fans led a chant of "CNN sucks" at the event.
Trump approvingly retweeted a tweet containing video of the mob in action.
His spokesperson, echoing his own stance, put the presidency against the concept of journalism and speech.
The American presidency, under Trump, stands opposed to the press as its "enemy."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.